Jody's Adventures

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Myanmar Monks

Shwedegon paya (spelled sort of right)
Monk #2
Head Monk
English class
So my friend Kristina who I worked with in China, and then hung out with in Tonsai, came with me to Myanmar for a few weeks. We arrived first in Yangon the biggest city in the country. There is an enormous temple complex there called the Shwedegon Pagoda. It has one huge stupa (the thing in the picture) and many smaller temples all around it. The big stupa is covered in gold and is rumored to have been rebuilt with the use of forced labor (very common in this country). At any rate it is a big tourist attraction and therefore also an attraction for Myanmar people hoping to learn english. They loiter around the large outdoor complex offering to be a guide or simply trying to chat with you. Kristina and I ran into a monk who comes there every friday with his class of students who he teaches english to at the monastery. We chatted with them at length and were escorted all over the complex by them and even put onto a bus back to our hotel which they paid for claiming that we would have to pay a much higher price for the bus. The monks invited us to visit their monasty and stay the night if we could before we left town. We decided to take them up on it and found our way out to the monastery the next day. Turns out we arrived a half hour before english class, so we became english class. We were brought up to the teacher monk's quarters and fed a lovely traditional Myanmar dinner and the english class students one by one found there way up to us as they found the classroom empty. We chatted with them all for several hours. In order to stay at the monastery permission must be sought by the police- the government wants to know where foreigners are every night. Unfortunately Kristina had forgotten her passport and without it the police would not grant the permission so we had to go back to town, but not before the head monk met us and gave us a lesson in Myanmar language and delighted in quizzing us repeatedly on the few words he taught us.


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